I don't quite know where this is going to go. But let's just start writing and see where it takes us.
I'm not the only hockey fan pissed off beyond belief at what's going on right now. I'm not the only one who has threatened to leave the sport altogether, not buy any merchandise, not go to any games, because owners' greed has prevented yet another season. I'm not the only hockey fan that's known my threats are a bluff.
And I know I cannot be the only one who, upon the first two weeks of the season being canceled, said, "F#$k it, my threat is real. I will not support them."
Because I will not support a league that bullies its players by canceling their games and their seasons, and throws their fans out with the rest of the garbage and does not take into consideration the fact that this time around, with information more privy in this social media-centric age, fans are not as gullible as last time. They are taking away a large part of my life, something that feels like it's my only livelihood at times, and this is the third time in twenty years. I'm fed up.
Or am I? Is my assertion that my bluff isn't actually a bluff really just another bluff*? If they reached a deal tomorrow or even in December, and some of the season was salvaged, would I really stand by my word and not go to games, not buy merchandise?
Out to lunch with my coworkers today, I happened to glance over at the bar and froze when I saw Jimmy Howard. Seeing hockey players both out of uniform and in person always takes me by surprise...mostly because I never have encounters with anyone famous. They simply live on my television or computer screen.
Howard was there, taking it easy, having just finished the morning practice at the Troy Sports Center down the street. And Abdelkader sat down next to him.
And I had a slight spaz attack, which should embarrass me more than it did. After all, my coworkers have only known me for five months and do not know how serious my love for all things hockey and Red Wings is.
I'm not one of those fans that will bother players and ask for pictures or autographs if I see them out and about. They have their own lives and I certainly do not plan on being rude and interrupting whatever they're doing. Had they not left so quickly after I noticed them, I would have at least passed by, smiled, and told them, "I wish you guys were playing hockey."
As I watched them leave and meet up with two guys standing out front (which turned out to be Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall, whom had been sitting six feet away from me and probably heard every word I said to my coworkers about Abdelkader and Howard), I realized just how much I miss the sport.
I love it too much. I cannot live without the sport, without my Hockey Night In Canada, without my Detroit Red Wings. Just catching a glimpse of Red Wings players made my heart ache - and they weren't even playing hockey!
And when the four men left my sight and went on their way, I realized that no, my empty threats are not empty.
This team, this sport means far too much to me. I won't go so far as to say that I won't watch games on television. But I refuse to buy new merchandise, I refuse to buy tickets to games. Perhaps I should support what I love...
I've put up with enough work stoppages in this league to forgive them so readily this time around.
But here's hoping something happens soon. Or the NHL may have a lot more fans like me not supporting them and may not be able to recover from a canceled season as well as they did last time.
*If you're not a Simpsons fan, the book pictured is Don't Do What Donny Dont Does, which is just as clear as my sentence.